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Hazelton, British Columbia

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Title: Hazelton, British Columbia  
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Subject: Skeena River, Steamboats of the Skeena River, Bulkley River, Hazelton Mountains, Omineca Gold Rush
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Hazelton, British Columbia

The Corporation of the Village of Hazelton[1]
Village of Hazelton Municipal Office
Village of Hazelton Municipal Office
Hazelton, British Columbia is located in British Columbia
Location of Hazelton in British Columbia
Country  Canada
Province  British Columbia
Regional district Kitimat-Stikine
 • Type Municipal incorporation
 • Mayor Alice Maitland
 • Total 2.80 km2 (1.08 sq mi)
Elevation 305 m (1,001 ft)
Population (2011)[3]
 • Total 270
 • Density 96/km2 (250/sq mi)
Time zone PST (UTC−8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC−7)

Hazelton is a village located at the junction of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers in northern British Columbia, Canada. It was founded in 1866 and has a population of 305 (2011). The nearby larger community of New Hazelton is the northernmost point of the Yellowhead Highway, a major interprovincial highway which runs from Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

The Hazelton area comprises two municipalities (the Village of Hazelton and District of New Hazelton), three unincorporated settlements (South Hazelton, Two Mile and the Kispiox Valley), four First Nations’ villages: three of which are of the Gitxsan people - (Gitanmaax, Glen Vowell and Kispiox) - and one of the Wet'suwet'en people - (Hagwilget).


  • First Nations history 1
  • Old Hazelton and Two Mile 2
  • New Hazelton and South Hazelton 3
    • The first car in Hazelton 1911 3.1
    • The Union Bank robberies of 1913 and 1914 3.2
  • Home of legendary characters 4
    • Cataline 4.1
    • Simon Gunanoot 4.2
    • Willie Manson 4.3
    • "Dutch" Sperry Cline 4.4
    • Black Jack MacDonell 4.5
    • Harry Tracy’s horse 4.6
  • Climate 5
  • Notable people 6
  • Attractions 7
  • Special events 8
  • Book references 9
  • Musical references 10
  • Notes 11
  • See also 12
  • External links 13

First Nations history

The Hazeltons are home to the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en First Nations.

Old Hazelton and Two Mile

Hazelton is one of the oldest settlements in Northern British Columbia; its European settlement dates back to 1866 when the Collins Overland telegraph went through.[4]

Hazelton Hospital 1911

Hazelton was the original gateway and staging area for the Omineca Gold Rush of 1869-73. Besides the hunt for riches, there was one other important reason to visit: it had the only proper hospital for hundreds of miles in any direction. One of its other, less appreciated, distinctions was in having dozens of roaming, foraging and howling sled dogs, as nearly everyone had their own team and many were allowed to run free. Transportation options got better in 1891 when the Hudson's Bay Company’s sternwheeler Caledonia arrived from Port Essington. Being the head of navigation on the Skeena, Hazelton was to play host to more than a dozen sternwheelers throughout the next twenty-two years.

Two Mile was a community two miles out of Hazelton. During the gold rush and rail construction, it was home to a roadhouse and a prosperous red-light district.

New Hazelton and South Hazelton

The Bulkley River (left) flowing into the Skeena River (right) near 'Ksan

When it was announced in 1903, that the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway would be coming through near Hazelton, another flurry of excitement erupted and hundreds of settlers poured into the district, buying whatever land they could get a hold of. Everyone was certain there was a fortune to be made and Hazelton was widely advertised as the "Spokane of Canada". What made Hazelton even more attractive was her mines, the Silver Standard and the Rocher de Boule. In 1911 two rival town-sites, Robert Kelly’s New Hazelton and the Grand Trunk Pacific’s South Hazelton both came into existence and competed to sell the most lots. Thus, the original Hazelton was called "Old" and together they became known as the "Three Hazeltons". Where the railway station would be built was an issue for many years until both South and New Hazelton received one.

The first car in Hazelton 1911

First Car in Hazelton

The first car, a Flanders 20, arrived in Hazelton on the evening of October 4th, 1911. It came from Seattle. It did not arrive by rail, which wouldn't be completed from Prince Rupert until 1912, nor did it come in by sternwheeler. It was brought in overland from Seattle. None of the people in town believed that story, as it was nearly impossible to walk into Hazelton overland in 1911, much less drive. The next day everyone went to go see the car where it was parked in front of the Hazelton Hotel and questioned the owner, PE Sands, on how he had accomplished the feat. At a banquet held in his honor later that evening, Sands revealed his secret. He had brought along a mechanic and they had often had to disassemble the car and load it unto mules. Clearly they'd had enough of doing that by the time they reached Hazelton. They packed the car up on a sternwheeler and went to Skeena Crossing (Gitsegukla) where the car was loaded on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway for the trip to Prince Rupert. There the car was loaded on a coastal steamer for the trip back to Seattle. At a banquet given in Seattle by the Pacific Highway Assocition in November, he was presented with the Challoner & Mitchell trophy, a solid 14 ct. gold medallion in the shape a small wheel, now owned by the Village of Hazelton. Note: This automobile is now on display at the Kittitas County Historical Museum in Ellensburg,WA.

The Union Bank robberies of 1913 and 1914

In November 1913, the Union Bank at New Hazelton was robbed by gunmen. In the commission of the crime, a young bank teller by the name of Jock McQueen was mortally wounded. Even though a posse was swiftly formed to go after them, the bandits got away with $16,000, a great deal of money in those days.

The Fist Bandit to Fall - Reverend Dan MacLean is man on right

The second robbery occurred on April 7, 1914, already a red letter day for the area as the last spike of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway was being driven 180 miles away in Fort Fraser. Little did anyone know that an equally historic event was about to happen right there in New Hazelton, one that would be remembered in hundreds of Canadian history books. Luckily, someone was there with a camera. Those pictures would become among the most famous of that era in British Columbia.

Home of legendary characters

Hazelton was home to several famous and infamous characters.


Cataline's Mule Train at Hazelton

Cataline, the most famous packer in British Columbia, served Hazelton throughout most of his career and also chose to retire there and died at the Hazelton hospital. People who knew his love for his mules, which he called his "ponees", were not surprised to hear what his biggest concern about the afterlife was. On the night before he died, Cataline asked his nurse if she believed that God would let him have a least one "ponee" in Heaven. When she replied that she believed He would, Cataline was satisfied and never spoke another word. He is buried at the Hazelton cemetery.

Simon Gunanoot

Willie Manson

William "Willie" Manson came to Canada from the Shetland Islands in 1869. In 1871 went to the Omineca district and staked a claim on a small stream that ran into the Finlay River. His claim was one of the richest ever found in that area at Manson Creek. Wille, like most of the other gold rush miners, would buy his supplies in Hazelton. Besides having one of the richest claim, one other thing set Willie apart, he was careful with his money. Willie worked the claim himself and then sold out to a mining syndicate and returned to the Shetland Islands. Back at home, he couldn't help but notice the poverty of some of his countrymen and he decided to do something about it. Using his gold rush wealth, he purchased large flocks of sheep from Scotland and sold them to his neighbors at cost and on credit. Then he built a wool processing mill and a knitting mill, which employed many more Shetland Islanders.

"Dutch" Sperry Cline

"Dutch" Sperry Cline was a decorated Boer War veteran, who spent his many years in Hazelton in several different occupations, from mushing the huskies down the frozen Skeena River to deliver the mail, to canoe freightman, mine boss and frontier policeman.

Black Jack MacDonell

Black Jack MacDonell, who owned the Ingenika Hotel in Old Hazelton, had been known from San Francisco to Dawson City as the "king of saloon keepers". In September 1911 on the eve of the federal election, Black Jack kept the Ingenika Hotel open, even though it was against the law to do so, and served free drinks all night long. Soon he had many happy and talkative customers who were quite willing to tell him whom they were going to vote for. Black Jack didn’t want Laurier re-elected because of his stance on free trade, so every customer that commented he was going to vote Liberal found themselves sitting in the jail on drunk and disorderly charges the next day, while the others who were voting Conservative were all free men.

Harry Tracy’s horse

There was even a famous horse, Tracy who was named after the Pacific Northwest outlaw Harry Tracy who had stolen him as a colt. With Oregon lawmen hot on his trail, Harry Tracy was forced to abandon the horse, which was returned to its owners and eventually ended up working on a Pat Burns cattle drive from the Chilcotin country before finally winding up in Hazelton.


Hazelton has humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb).[5] Winters are cold but are milder than what the latitude may suggest, owing to pacific air masses. The average temperature in January is −8.9 °C (16.0 °F) and from December to February, there are an average of 32 days where the maximum temperature reaches or surpasses freezing.[6] However, arctic air masses can push temperatures below −30.0 °C (−22.0 °F), occurring on 3 days per year.[6] The average annual snowfall is 185 centimetres (72.8 in). Summers are warm with a July daytime high of 23.3 °C (73.9 °F) although nighttime temperatures are cool, with a July low of 9.1 °C (48.4 °F). In an average summer, there are 7 days where the temperature exceeds 30 °C (86.0 °F).[6] The average annual precipitation is 614 millimetres (24 in) with March and April being the driest months and October through January being the wetter months.[6] The record high was 36.7 °C (98.1 °F) on August 20, 1977 and the record low was −40.5 °C (−40.9 °F) on January 8, 1991.[6]

Notable people

Carol Huynh - 2008 Freestyle Wrestling Olympic gold medalist

Dave Hancock - 15th Premier Of Alberta.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers - Chair of the House Republican Conference


Special events

  • Kispiox Valley Rodeo is held the first weekend in June,
  • Kispiox Valley Music Festival is held the last weekend of July.
  • Pioneer Day takes place on the second Saturday of August.
  • Gitxsan Cultural Days takes place on the third weekend in August.

Book references

  • The Far Land, Eva MacLean ISBN 0-920576-41-9
  • The Skeena River of Destiny, Dr. RG Large ISBN 1-895811-19-8
  • Pioneer Legacy Chronicles of the Lower Skeena River, Norma Bennet ISBN 0-9683026-0-2
  • A Thousand Blunders, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and Northern British Columbia, Frank Leonard ISBN 0-7748-0532-3
  • Barner, A. Surgeon of the Skeena : a brief résumé of the life and work of Rev. Horace C. Wrinch, M.D., D.D., Hazelton, B.C. The Committee on Missionary Education, The Literature Dept., Woman’s Missionary Society : [and] the United Church of Canada, [194?]
  • "The unmasking of Ksan", Eric Wilson ISBN 0-00-223182-4

Musical references


  1. ^ "British Columbia Regional Districts, Municipalities, Corporate Name, Date of Incorporation and Postal Address" ( 
  2. ^ Village of Hazelton. "Village council". Retrieved 2008-06-16. 
  3. ^ a b  
  4. ^ "Hazelton". Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  5. ^ Kottek, M.; J. Grieser; C. Beck; B. Rudolf; F. Rubel (2006). "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated" (PDF). Meteorol. Z. 15 (3): 259–263.  
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Canadian Climate Normals 1971-2000". Environment Canada. Retrieved December 22, 2012. 

See also

External links

  • Hazelton, British Columbia Homepage
  • Village of Hazelton Homepage
  • 'Ksan Native Village & Museum
  • Kispiox Valley Music Festival
  • Canadian Encyclopedia-Simon Gunanoot

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